Press Conference

Press Conference by the Defense Minister (11:00-11:23 A.M. December 26, 2008)

Press Conference by the Defense Minister
Time & Date: 11:00-11:23 A.M. December 26, 2008
Place: Press Conference Room, Ministry of Defense (MOD)

(This is a provisional translation of an announcement by the Defense Minister and the abstract of the Q&A session at the subsequent press conference for reference purpose only)
The original full text is in Japanese.

1. Announcements

I have one announcement. I received an instruction from the Prime Minister before the Cabinet Meeting. The Prime Minister had instructed the relevant ministries and agencies to review measures to control piracy. On this piracy matter, I have just received an instruction to accelerate the review process, in cooperation with the relevant ministries and agencies, in order to ensure that the SDF will make a prompt response to measures against piracy. Accordingly, we would like to undertake such a review.

2. Questions and Answers

Regarding the Prime Minister’s instruction you have just mentioned, you once indicated that maritime security operations were not enough to respond to the issue. What problems do you think will arise in the process of the review on future responses?

What we can defend is limited. On the other hand, we must consider what we can do from the perspective of international cooperation. There is the fact that pirates armed with heavy armaments fires back at forces of other countries. We must consider how to appropriately carry out missions under such circumstances. We also need to make adequate preparations, when we dispatch troops, so as to be able to respond to various situations. These are among the matters that require thorough considerations. The Prime Minister mentioned maritime security operations in terms of what the SDF can do under the existing law. Therefore, I do not think that the Prime Minister’s remarks yesterday were limited to maritime security operations. Reviews have been made at the Headquarters for Ocean Policy on a general law and necessary legal stipulations. If you think of the prompt response to measures against piracy within this context, the mobilization of the SDF will naturally come into review. Therefore, my understanding is that maritime security operations, which have drawn particular attention since yesterday, is just one of alternatives to be reviewed. It is natural for us to review our mission, which is also discussed at the Headquarters for Ocean Policy. We have conducted our reviews as well. I think that the Prime Minister’s instruction means that we have to conduct further reviews.

Concerning this matter, some media reports suggest the possibility of dispatching an investigation team. Please let us know your outlook for the schedule including the time required for the review.

There is no instruction this time regarding the schedule of the review. My understanding is that the Prime Minister instructed us to sort out issues in advance since unexpected situations may arise when we respond to this matter. I have no idea about the source of the media reports about an “investigation team.?EWe have so far not received any specific instruction on this. Nor do we believe it to be necessary at the moment. I think the matter of an investigation team will depend on the future review. I have heard nothing about an investigation team. There is simply no such fact.

The Prime Minister made a comment yesterday that the issue is a pressing matter. Can we take it as an indication that the Government as a whole shares the same sense of urgency?

On the issue of piracy, we certainly need to consider what we can do in consideration of the United Nations resolutions, responses by other countries, and various opinions of concerned parties, especially the ship-owners?Eassociation. In that sense, piracy is no doubt an issue of great importance requiring an international response. Therefore, I believe, we need to consider what response should be made, and what response we “can?Emake within the framework allowed for us. Given previous reviews at the Headquarters for Ocean Policy, I think that the Prime Minister’s words indicate his intention that the issue should be addressed with consciousness of the problems.

On the loss of 63 items of classified documents at JGSDF Fuji School, the media has reported that it has taken two years to report this case to the Minister of Defense, after it was reported to the Chief of Staff of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF). Please let us know the background of this case and how you have taken the situation.

Although the division in charge will later explain the background, it was truly regrettable that this serious incident was not reported to the Minister. That, I think, is a problem which we should make sure to never repeat again in the future.

(For the remainder of the press conference, please refer to the Japanese version.)